The building at Dessauer Strasse 36/37 was designed by German architect Christine Jachmann and was a part of the so-called "Women's block" IBA Block 2 of the International Building Exhibition IBA Berlin 1987.
Christine Jachmann and IBA
In her article named, "The iba Block 2 in berlin Kreuzberg, an architecture project: "But actually everything was very different" for the FKW (Zeitschrift fur Geschlechterforschung und visuelle Kultur) journal, Christina Jachmann criticizes the approach and the implementations of IBA. In her detailed account of affairs, Christina highlights the lack of female participation in IBA, the struggles through which the so-called "Women's project" was promised and then delayed by the Berlin Senate and the IBA; simply "because so many urban properties were no longer available."
In the same article, Jachmann emphasizes that the constantly changing attitude of people towards their apartments, their living environment and their cities shows that development can be determined not only by political and economic conditions, but also by the needs, desires and dreams of the people. She insists on acknowledging the new family structures of the recent past which has resulted in the need for different forms of housing. According to Jachmann the availability of an environment that corresponds to the urban lifestyle of the city, is what makes the city and its center so desirable. Jachmann viewed the design of the environment as a social problem and through this project she got to concrete her ideas of equality and designing for the growing, changing, new forms of living.
Jachmann and Emancipatory living
Jachmann describes "Emancipatory living" as independent, prejudice-free evolution of human space as well as functions and use. Her fundamental starting point to address the subject of emancipation in IBA Block 2 was to view social housing through a pragmatic lens. It critically reread the standardization in public housing and called for a re- evaluation of the basic framework conditions of publicly funded housing construction to view things "differently", in order to incorporate the new different ways of life and living. To make the usage of space and the content of the architecture correspond to the new needs of the people. She questioned the standard apartment types prescribed by the WBK (Housing Loan Corporation) and through her analysis she found that the standard specification of apartment sizes, room sizes, prescribed minimum and maximum values and sizes of kitchens and bathrooms, do not leave a very large scope for "other" living or "alternative living" and can only be used by the presumed "normal families".
Jachman based her "Emancipatory living" in publicly funded housing on a few criteria that make up her thematic approach;1)Attention to complex system relationships:-structural changes in the function / exchange of functions,
- changed family structures and the position of women,2)Expanding the scope of action for children and adults alike,-self-determination - self-organization in an overall framework,3)Personal freedom of decision,4)Communication as essential
Characteristics and details
The building designed by Christine Jachmann optically joins the brick facade of Myra Warhaftig with the same material in a different color. While the ground floor is in alignment, three axis groups emerge in the upper area and enliven the facade. Jachmann strongly emphasizes the axiality of the facade by blinding the large window areas of the first and second floors in white. The facades in the courtyard are plastered. What is striking here is the large number of windows that result from the effort of the architect to create bright rooms of approximately the same size allowing for spatial autonomy, multi use and scope for future possibilities. E.g. Eat-in kitchen or dining area in the winter garden. On the inner side, above the courtyard entrances of buildings 9A and 9B there are loggia or bay windows pushed out of the facade.
Focus on naturally lit and ventilated bright airy rooms, (including the secondary rooms) resulted in the decision for a maximum house depth of 9.00 m. The complex comprises a total of 26 residential units of various sizes. At the neighboring lot of Myra Warhaftig, maximum of 5-room apartments can be found, but here at Jachmann's block, 6- and 8-room apartments with 333.4 m2 are also found with the intention of special handicapped shared apartments. The extent to which it is used as such has not been established. In addition, all apartments are also equipped with an additional home office near the kitchen or bathroom.
A bright and clear underground car park with an alarm system and partly with mirror walls should help to create fewer danger spots and offer a little more security for women.
With these measures Jachmann simply envisioned a quality of life that gets enhanced through everyday quality living, not with luxury items or expensive finishes, but simply by beautiful rooms, rooms that can be used differently.
Jachmann believes the fate of a building lies in its use, and not just in its design. An apartment block - planned 1986/1989 near the wall on the outskirts of West Berlin, start of construction 1991, Completed 1992/93 - now becomes an urban residential complex in the center of Berlin.